Famous comic book character Monica aids PAHO campaigns
Washington, D.C., May 5, 2004 (PAHO)—Monica, the famous comic book character created by Brazilian artist Mauricio de Sousa is acting as the spokesperson for a continental vaccination campaign coordinated by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).
A Monica comic book formed part of the outreach effort for Vaccination Week in the Americas, an initiative that started April 24 with the goal of immunizing 40 million people throughout the continent, from Canada to the Southern Cone.
For the vaccine campaign, de Sousa created a special Monica's Gang comic book, "Vaccination: An Act of Love," that points out the importance of children receiving their vaccines, in language and with characters aimed at children.
"From the moment we're born we get vaccinated, sometimes with a little pinch of a shot, other times with drops. These vaccines protect us from a number of dangerous diseases. But there are thousands of children in other countries who haven't been vaccinated or who haven't gotten all the doses they need to be well protected because they live far from health clinics or because their parents don't know about the benefits of vaccines," says PAHO Director Dr. Mirta Roses in an introduction to the comic.
"Talk about vaccines with your friends at school and your family at home so that everyone understands and no one gets left behind. Help the vaccination teams when they come to your town, your neighborhood or your school. Remember that you need to be healthy if you want to play, jump, dance, ride a bicycle, and live all your dreams," Roses tells readers.
Monica is a widely known spokesperson. Her comic books reach millions of children in 40 countries and are printed in 14 languages, including Japanese and Javanese. Since de Sousa created Monica, a billion comic books have been produced. Her web site gets 30 million page views a month and has been voted the top children's site in Brazil for the fifth year in a row.
This was the third time the cartoon character has helped promote PAHO initiatives. In 2003, Monica and her friends participated in the "Healthy Environments for children" campaign, and earlier this year they starred in "Road safety is no accident" for World Health Day. The comic books, distributed to health ministries, schools and other organizations, serve to educate children in a reader-friendly way about important public health issues.
Vaccination Week in the Americas was an initiative that brought together for the first time 35 countries in a joint effort to immunize the most vulnerable groups: children, women of childbearing age and older adults, focusing on those who live in remote areas, and have been left behind due to lack of access or information.
In some countries the initiative continues, with thousands of health workers moving out on buses, bicycles, cars and boats to the most remote places and border areas to improve vaccination coverage.
Immunization campaigns in the Americas succeeded in eradicating smallpox in 1973 and polio in 1991, and are now focusing on measles and rubella elimination.
PAHO was established in 1902 and is the world's oldest public health organization. PAHO works with all the countries of the Americas to improve the health and the quality of life of people of the Americas, and serves as the Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization (WHO).